Shangri-La Hotels has made one of its most significant investments in technology yet, announcing the integration of virtual reality (VR) experiences into its worldwide sales efforts.
The group has rolled out Samsung Gear VR headsets across all global sales offices and produced immersive 360-degree videos for over a quarter of its 94 hotels and resorts. Nearly half of the hotel portfolio will have VR videos available by January, with full roll out to be completed in 2016.
Powered by Oculus, the Gear VR headsets enable travel advisors, meeting planners and potential corporate clients to virtually experience Shangri-La hotels and destinations around the world. They will be used as promotional and educational tools at tradeshows, industry events and sales meetings, instantly ‚Äútransporting‚ÄĚ advisors to places such as the rooftop of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa or the Grand Ballroom in KowloonShangri-La, Hong Kong.
The videos can be watched online on a 360-degree video player or, for a fully immersive experience, freely downloaded and viewed on a VR headset that uses the Oculus platform.
‚ÄúShangri-La is investing significantly in technology and the future of travel content, which is why we are embracing virtual reality on this scale,‚ÄĚ said Steven Taylor, chief marketing officer of Shangri-La International.
‚ÄúVR is a revolutionary new sales tool. The technology has evolved so that it is now affordable, light and portable; virtual reality is on the cusp of becoming more mainstream.‚ÄĚ
Viewing the 360-degree videos is a very¬†immersive experience. Some of its videos already include¬†the Hylandia by Shangri-La video, where can viewers find themselves a passenger in a car driving through the countryside outside of Shangri-La City in China.
‚ÄúTravel experts play a critical role in their fields and the traveller‚Äôs decision-making process. This is why our first VR efforts are focused on them,‚ÄĚ Taylor added.
‚ÄúTheir clients depend on them to ensure holidays, business trips and meetings are enjoyable and effective. Shangri-La‚Äôs VR experiences will enhance their knowledge about our hotels and their ability to sell with confidence to their clients.‚ÄĚ
Shangri-La began developing virtual reality videos in May with Brand Karma and previewed one of Shangri-La hotels and excursions in Ulaanbaatar, Lhasa and Shangri-La City at ILTM in Shanghai in June.¬†The technology has since been rolled out to the group‚Äôs 17 global sales offices.
‚ÄúWe want to employ innovative technology in a way that is meaningful to our trade partners and beneficial to consumers,‚ÄĚ said Taylor.
‚ÄúNot only will Shangri-La‚Äôs immersive 360-degree videos provide travel experts a better understanding of the Shangri-La product and experience, but there are many creative applications. For example, a travel planner could virtually walk a CEO through Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong‚Äôs ballroom prior to a big product announcement or use it to heighten clients‚Äô anticipation for an upcoming trip.‚ÄĚ